Critical Habitat Designation Could Cost State, Oil Industry Millions

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The state says the proposed critical habitat designation for the polar bear could end up costing the oil industry, the state and local governments hundreds of millions of dollars. In a recent letter to Interior
Secretary Ken Salazar, Governor Sean Parnell says the US Fish and Wildlife Service is grossly underestimated the economic impact of the designation, because it didn’t consider the indirect affects of delays, legal fees and lost jobs.

The state, along with Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, paid for an independent analysis of the economic impact of the proposed critical habitat designation. Its asking the Fish and Wildlife service to re-do the economic analysis and redraw the critical habitat boundary, which it says is too broad. Bruce Woods is a spokesperson for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska. He says the agency is taking all of the comments it receives into account before writing the final critical habitat plan for the polar bear. He says the habitat designation is required by law:

The Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to release the final critical habitat plan in October. The polar bear was listed as threatened under the endangered species act in 2008.

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